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April 2007
PERFECT STRANGER: An Interview with Halle Berry

PERFECT STRANGER: An Interview with Halle Berry
By Wilson Morales

April 13, 2007

Having won the Oscar in 2002, one can say that Halle Berry hasn’t been given a lot of roles or films afforded to other Oscar winners. Then again, it’s harder period for female actors get leading roles in major films if it’s not an independent film, or some horror or thriller. Well, Halle’s next film happens to be a thriller and it’s her film. Co-starring in the film with her is Bruce Willis. Time has certainly change over the years when you think back to 1991 when Halle was starting out in the business and one of the earliest films she did was “The Last Boy Scout” which starred Willis and Damon Wayans. Berry’s role was small, but it just shows you the growth of an actress with hard work. In their current film, “Perfect Stranger”, Berry plays a reporter who goes undercover in a advertising firm run by a multi-millionaire Harrison Hill (Willis), to solve the murder of one of her childhood friends. In speaking with blackfilm.com, Berry talks working with neighbor Bruce Willis, the fear of being bald for her next film, and her other projects, including one with Alicia Keys.

Since winning the Oscar and everything after that, has that made your career easier?

Halle Berry: It has made it harder, but it's only made it harder because of the pressure that comes along with that award. I had to work really hard in not allowing that pressure to stifle my creativity and stifle my desire to be an individual and do my career my way. So, I worked really hard to not just wait myself out of my career by waiting for another Academy-award winning role. I wouldn't have worked for five years now. I reserve the right to just keep making choices that are new for me, and trying different things, taking risks and chances, trying different genres, I just don't want to do lofty, Oscar-winning type roles. That was never the plan I had for myself

What did you think of the screenplay for this film when you got it?

HB: I thought 'wow.' I love this genre, I love a good psychological thriller that takes you on a journey, that bends your mind and forces you to think and look for clues and figure it out, and I love movies with great endings that somehow surprise you and somehow make it worth the journey. Sometimes maybe you have to go back again to say 'wait, wait, does that all add up? Did I see what I thought I saw?' I had to go back and read the script again and say 'wait a minute,' because the script left out a lot of detail because it would have given it away long before if the detail was in there, so I had to go back and say 'now wait a minute, how exactly does this happen?' I loved it and I was challenged by this character.

Did you immediately see yourself in the part?

HB: No, the funny thing was, when I first read it, I thought 'this is gonna be great for somebody. Somebody is gonna have an awesome time.' Then the realization sort of sunk in. My manager said, I'm so used to fighting for parts, my manager said 'no, no, no, they want you for this one.' That didn't really dawn on me at first.

This is a movie where you're acting and the character you play is sometimes acting. What's the process for keeping all of that straight?

HB: I think about it all the time. Which is why I was scared of this role, because I saw all of the nuances and all of the layers and I knew that my character was never really herself, ever -- maybe a few moments in the movie do you get to see the real character that's not pretending to be somebody else. The challenge for me was to act as these other people and have the other characters in the movie believe what she was saying, but still not act so well that the audience saw through it. When I wanted the audience to know that I was acting, like with Catherine Pogue, I had to act well enough so that Bruce Willis' character would buy it, but not so well that the audience forgot that she was really Ro acting as Catherine. I remember James Foley would sometimes say 'cut!' and I'd say 'what, wasn't that good?' and he would say 'Ro does not have an Academy award. You have got to do that over.' So that was always my sort of balance that I tried to walk.

What does being fearless mean to you?

HB: I don’t know because I am filled with fear when I’m doing it. Usually when I know I am filled with fear, then I know that I’m going in the right direction. When I’m scared to death, that means that I’m doing something new. I’m daring to walk in unchartered waters and I know there’s going to be some growth at the end of the road. So I don’t know what that means for me because I’m always scared to death. I think I’m always just willing to expose myself and walk through the fire and see how I come out on the other end. I’m not afraid to do that.

This film is filled with people having secrets. Is it harder for you to trust people when you meet them for the first time?

HB: I think it’s harder for most people today in this world. With this world of the internet and people can be whomever they want, we all know that we can deceived; all of us, every single one of us, so I think we all have some trust issues today. If you watch the news, you will have trust issues. If you read newspapers, you will have trust issues, so I think we all do.

Do you think it’s harder being an actor where people recognize you and they know you are as opposed to an everyday person?

HB: I think what that does is people think they know me but they really don’t. They think they know me and that they’re perfect strangers to me, but they don’t recognize me as a perfect stranger. But I really am. They think they know me because of things that they’ve read, things that they’ve watched me do or movies that they’ve seen me in so it’s somewhat of an unbalanced situation and sometimes that can be a little disconcerting.

When do you get to be private?

HB: Not very much. Only at home, and I spend a lot of time at home as a result of that. But that’s a good thing.


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